8 student confessions that make me think differently about money — and merit.

In March 2015, a group of Columbia University students created a Facebook page named Columbia University Class Confessions.

The group behind the Facebook page is known as First-Generation Low-Income Partnership, otherwise known as FLIP.


Their goal? To provide lower-income students at Columbia a space to voice their realities.

Their realities are pretty darn harrowing.

Before Columbia, Stanford had already launched a class confessions program a few years back:


After Columbia and Stanford launched their Facebook class confession pages in early 2015, other colleges followed suit.

Brown

Williams

There's a lot we can take away from these stories. They're intense; they're saddening. But here's one thing we should definitely note.

Hard work does not equal financial security. Social mobility isn't as easy as some might think.

When the Fight for 15 protests happened across the nation in favor of raising the minimum wage, one of the most common counterarguments was: "Why don't they just go get a college degree?"

Well, look at these college students working hard — to feed themselves, to get a roof over their heads, to get the medical assistance they need for depression or other health conditions, to support their struggling families back home. They went to go get that college degree that is supposed to help people out of poverty. They even worked hard enough to apply and get accepted into incredibly prestigious colleges, colleges that one would think would be the golden ticket to success.

And still, they're struggling. "Hard work" doesn't always give lower-income folks what they need to survive and fit into a world that's not made for them.

And the sad reality is that many lower-income people will still be struggling after graduation thanks to a weak economy — and a lot of debt.

From the Institute of College Access and Success: 69% of the Class of 2013 graduated college with an average of $28,400 in student debt.

Lower-income students clearly have more difficulty navigating things that others might take for granted — simply because they never had access to the resources some have always had — and don't know how to use them.

Check out more stories being read by students in this video below:

We all deserve the right to survive without struggle. These students show that hard work doesn't cancel out the obstacles that many lower-income folks face when trying to move up the socio-economic ladder.

Maybe their stories will help stop the unfair judgement of lower-income people and help others be more aware and understanding at the same time.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."